To fully understand the competitiveness for this issue’s Athlete of the Month award, let us begin the Fall 2011 AoM presentation with the Honorable-Mention performances. Honorable mention AoM performances from Kona alone include FFT/IOS Pro Development Team’s Dynamic Duke-alumni Duo of Morgan Anderson and Brian Duffy, Jr. Morgan raced an incredible 10:15 debut-Ironman, winning 2nd in the W18-24. Her challenge will be to dedicate herself to swimming this winter shave time from her 1:15 swim. Do that, and the top-step on the podium becomes a clear possibility.
In contrast to Morgan’s race, teammate Duffy exited from the choppy waters of the pacific onto the Kialua-Kona Pier in 56:18 and first in his age group. Also Brain’s debut Ironman, the ride was not as smooth for him as he was plagued by severe and debilitating SI joint pain that resulted in a miserable 5:28 bike split that not only dropped him to 17th place, but also lead to the realization that he would probably DNF. In one of the most impressive displays of determination and tenacity that we have ever witnessed as coaches, an on the largest stage in the sport of triathlon, Brian brought home his race in a division-best 2:58:09 marathon, running himself onto the podium’s final step 5th place in M18-24. According to Coach Bean, Brian had sub-5 hour bike potential at this year’s Kona, and on a fast course, could split sub-50, 4:40, sub 2:50. Pretty tidy.
FFT Pro Development teammate Kristin Andrews also earns Honorable Mention for her 2nd place pro finish at Ironman 70.3 Racine against a stacked field, qualifying her for the 70.3 World Championships (Kristin’s race report). She had the fastest bike split of the race, and exited T2 nearly tied for first, and ran well to clinch 2nd in a tight race ahead of a competitive field, including Ironman Florida 2-time winner (and 8:55 Iron-woman) Jessica Jacobs who finished 4th, 55-seconds behind Andrews.
FFT/TIMEX pro Jackie Arendt, rounds out our AoM Honorable Mentions. This year’s Kona was a repeat of 2009 for Arendt, who again flatted, which consumed 20-minutes while the clock was ticking. This disappointment is in sharp contrast to the rest of 2011, a year that has seen incredible improvement and results for Arendt. She started the season with a surprise, but distant, 2nd place pro finish at Ironman St George, 36-minutes behind chammpion Heather Wurtle. The durable Arendt went on to place 4th at Lake Placid, and then raced Ironman Louisville almost on a whim, to secure a pro Kona qualifying spot, which she did in exemplary style. Emerging just shy of 4 minutes behind previous Ironman World Champion Nina Kraft, in a still-impressive 54:07, she consistently pulled time back from the frontrunner, eeking back 44 second on the bike and 27 second on the run to finish 2: 14 shy of what would have been an Ironman victory in her rookie pro year. You will have your day soon enough Jackie Arendt!
And now, finally, to Mike Lavery, who capped off an incredible season with his 9:06:05 Kona performance, good for 4th place in the uber-competitive M25-29 division. His splits of 1:02, 4:48, and 3:08 represent a 3-peat of personal bests, a 19-minute Ironman PR, and a 30-minute PR in Kona. He wins the AoM top honors in part for the quality of his racing, in part for the improvement he has manifested over the past year, and in part for his flawless race execution. The Ironman World Championships finished a series of races which saw Lavery coming into peak from, including a 2nd overall at Wisconsin’s Door County 1/2 Ironman, and a top-amateur (and would-have-been 6th among pros) finish at the Timberman 70.3.
Needless to say, we’re itching to see Lavery race an Ironman on a flat and fast course; Sub-9 for sure and maybe more.
By the way, Mike is a hilarious sports writer, and his Kona 2011: 9:06 race report is a must read!
Michael LAVERY, 4th M25-29